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MCC Staff Charged With Sex Abuse Remains Free Into 2020 Akparanta In Plea Discussions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Periscope video

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 31 – When Colin Akparanta was brought in shackles, accused of sexually abusing female prisoners under his control in the Metropolitan Correctional Center prison, into the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York's Magistrates Court on May 21, his wife had been waiting for him for hours. So too his for now publicly paid lawyer.

After a reading of the charges, Akparanta was offered $200,000 bail but only when others sign on to it. The U.S. Attorney's Office said it would go to the house he owns in Irvington, New Jersey to pick up his two guns, and then store them in a vault. His lawyer said Yes, he would be engaging in discussions about a pre-trial disposition, meaning a plea.

   Times change. Now in August, before District Judge Lorna G. Schofield, Akpanta's lawyer is arguing for suppression and to strike a filing from the docket - a filing that even before the motion is heard is not available on PACER outside the courthouse. Now on August 29 it is confirmed: that will remain the case: "DELETED DOCUMENT. Deleted document number 23 MEMORANDUM, as to Colin Akparanta. The document was incorrectly filed in this case, as per instructions from Chambers via telephone." And, "MEMO ENDORSEMENT: as to Colin Akparanta (1) granting [24] CONSENT MOTION to Strike Document No. 23. ENDORSEMENT: Application Granted. The Clerk of the Court is directed to strike and remove docket number 23 from the record in this case. The Clerk of the Court is further directed to terminate the letter motion at docket number 24. (Signed by Judge Lorna G. Schofield on 8/29/2019)."

  And now, what *was* the stricken material? Well, there's this: "  Nicholas Kaizer, Esq., pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, declares under penalty of perjury that the following is true and correct: 1. I represent Defendant Colin Akparanta in the above-captioned matter. 2. I submit this Declaration in Support of Akparanta’s motion to strike Document 23 from the court docket. 3. Document 23, filed August 22, 2019, is counsel’s Memorandum of Law in support of Akparanta’s pretrial motions. In it, we inadvertently refer to search warrant materials the government classified as confidential, subject to the confidentiality order previously entered in this case (Doc 16). We also attach the warrant, affidavit in support and inventory as exhibits to the memorandum and seek to strike them from the public docket as well." We said we'd have more on this and now we do.

On October 31 Akparanta appeared again before Judge Schofield, not in detention, which seemed to surprise the Judge's courtroom deputy, understandably given the charges. The government which had gone out into the hall with Akparanta's lawyer while another depressing proceeding took place in the courtroom said that plea negotiations are going well, after discovery was produced.

  Judge Schofield denied the motions to suppress. The can was kicked down the road to January 7 - Inner City Press will continue to follow this case.

   Back on May 21 the government argued for a curfew, saying that Akparanta is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Nigeria to which he retains strong ties. He didn't try to flee when first questioned - but it seems he thought he was under investigation only for bringing contraband into the MCC for female prisoners, not for the sex acts he traded the contraband and control for.

 The unsealed indictment in USA v. Akparanta lists as his nicknames or aliases "Africa" and "Akon." (A commenter on Inner City Press' thread about the arraignment noted that the singer Akon is not, in fact, from Nigeria - but neither is Africa a country.)


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